Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The politics of inevitability...

Something that I've been thinking a lot about lately is how on a personal and collective scale we become complicit in our own undoing. There have been messages going back and forth with the fantastic group of progressive mothers I am so fortunate to be a part of, and since the Sarah Palin Thing (last time I'll refer to her by name in this post), I've sensed not only a growing despair, but almost a forfeiture of this election, as though it were a forgone conclusion that once again, the bad guys are going to win. Well, certainly the Roves and Republican evildoers have worked very tirelessly to undermine our confidence in the right to a fair and legal election, and it is understandable that given the last eight years - one shock to our system after the next with these fiends - we are a little shaky, as though we've got some national form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I'm not even being flippant when I say this.

As I wrote to my friends, though, I had to think about that Cubs game in 2003. (I am just about the last person to reference sports in any capacity, so this alone is noteworthy.) You know the one where the fan reached over and seemingly snatched the ball out of that outfielder's glove, effectively causing two runs? I wasn't watching it at the time, but my friends were over and I could hear them scream and groan and shriek. I have seen The Incident a few times since on replay. What I saw was a team that was ahead, in both the series and the game, crumble upon itself, almost literally. At the moment that the (idiot) fan reached over and grabbed the ball, there seemed to be a deathly silence that fell over Wrigley Field, and, five outs away from the World Series, within seconds, the players and their fans all bought into the so-called curse of the Cubs, that they were doomed to disappoint eternally. It was a potent and dramatic display of the self-fulfilling prophesy carried out on the world stage, and if it weren't so depressing, it would be fascinating. After that moment, the Marlins (thank you, Wikipedia!) scored run after run, the golden, overachieving child to the Cub's underachieving child, and the Chicago team, having bought so completely into the myth of their inevitable failure, may as well have been cardboard cutouts there on the field. They were already gone.

My analogy is this: we must not complicit in helping the far-right build their myth of inevitability. They are as dependent on us - progressive, smart, compassionate people - buying into it and playing that role as they depend on anything. In fact, we are doing their work for them, the work of crooks and thieves and misogynists, when we wring our hands and believe in their supposed power. What I am saying here is that we absolutely must be steadfast in bringing people away from the McCain camp through outreach and phone calls and going door-to-door, but we must also be disciplined and conscious of our thought patterns. We need to focus on what we are moving toward, not what want to move away from: we need to destroy that paradigm that is so tempting among the abused. The first group of people whose minds we need to change is our own. Not buying into the Republican inevitability myth and refusing the role of mistreated (but good-hearted) loser is as essential to winning as anything. So let's be disciplined and generous with ourselves and leave that old, worthless dynamic in the dust. It cannot exist itself without our participation. The Republicans will be frothing at the mouth for us to play the role they've assigned us. It'll be a delight to disappoint them.

Shalom, everyone

No comments: